As I am preparing for a trip to Alaska, I have been anticipating all the wonderful adventures I will be having. However, I have to keep reminding myself, as exciting as it is to have such a wonderful trip planned, these types of adventures are typically only about 10 to 20 percent of our lives.
That means 80 to 90 percent of our life is made up of the routine things such as going to work, doing the dishes, getting the groceries, and paying the bills. So if we only find happiness in the trips and exciting things in life, we are limiting our enjoyment in life. Life is truly about finding joy in the small things, the 80 percent of life that we live day in and day out.
When I was in an accident many years ago, I remember thinking to myself, “I will never again complain about having to do the dishes.” I can still remember the feeling of standing at the kitchen sink and feeling ecstatic to the point of tears.
Unfortunately I did not hold that feeling. Sadly, our brain when we repeat something over and over it starts to not release the dopamine that makes us feel alert and excited but tends to run on an attitude of “oh just this again.”
A good example of this is people who get that new car or buy their dream house or marry that person they love. After a while they start to feel like it is no big deal, because the brain is now telling us that chemically.
It takes a conscious effort to stop and pay attention and appreciate all that is around us. Unfortunately, for most people this is only appreciated when it is gone or something new and exciting enters their life.
We know people who are always looking for that dopamine kick. Something new, something exciting. That is not the answer. The answer is to stop and pay attention to your every day experiences.
How many times do we hear stories of people who were in car accidents who ended up with permanent disabilities and they now appreciate what they have.
I want to challenge you to not wait till something drastic happens in your life. Start right now and appreciate all that you do have. The small things, the ability to sleep in on Saturday mornings, the kiss you get when you walk in the door from work, the “I love you” text from one of your children, the flowers that are growing in your garden, or your neighbor’s garden, the paycheck that comes in at the end of the week, the ability to go for a walk, or to do your own dishes.
I know this is not a new concept for most. We have heard it before, and even agree with it, but do you actually do anything about it?
Well, it is time. Do not wait till tomorrow, or next week.
I take a few minutes every morning and every evening to stop and just remind myself how lucky I am to live here. I take in the visual of where I live, my dogs, my daughter. It always makes me smile.
I look at my schedule for my practice and I say thank you. I come home and enjoy being able to eat what I want, do what I want, and again I feel the gratitude of all these things.
Of course there are many exciting things I would love to have the opportunity to do, and they are on my bucket list; however, life is truly about appreciating the small every day things that I am lucky to do.
Some people need more of a reminder and will keep a gratitude journal, or meditation/prayer to name a few. his does not mean you have to be Pollyanna and pretend there is not sadness and pain in life. There has to be space for that as well.
But, that is another article.